Andre Dillard’s new role, catching up with Greg Lewis and superstitious Jeff Stoutland.
Here’s today’s edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Super Bowl Observations, and for those of you scoring at home, these are observations 51 through 60 this week!
1. It was late during the miserable 2011 Dream Team season, and the Eagles were slogging along at 4-7 or 4-8 when I had finally seen enough. I wrote a column for my old newspaper saying, you know what, Andy Reid had a tremendous run here, but it’s time for him to go, and Jeff Lurie needs to fire him after the season. I had so much respect for Big Red – still do – so it wasn’t an easy column to write. Andy put the Eagles back on the map after they had won just two playoff games in the 18 previous years. But it was time. The day that column appeared, I was down at practice at the NovaCare Complex like every other day, but before practice began, Andy gestured for me to come over to where he was standing. I assumed he was furious over the column and was going to ream me out. So I walk over and Reid glares at me and says this:
“I read your column. And if it was me covering our team, I would have written the same thing.”
Then he walked away.
2. The Eagles are 8-1 in their last nine games when the other team scores first, a stretch that started last year with the Jets (trailed 6-0) and continued with the Commanders (trailed 7-0), Giants (trailed 3-0) and Washington again (trailed 10-0) and continued this year with the Lions (trailed 7-0), Jaguars (trailed 14-0), Texans (trailed 7-0) and Colts (trailed 7-0). The only game they fell behind that they lost since November of 2021 was the Saints last month, when they trailed 13-0 before losing 20-10. The Eagles’ 10-5 record (.667 winning percentage) under Nick Sirianni when the other team scores first is 2nd-best in the league since opening day last year, behind the 49ers (13-5, .722).
3. The Eagles are the first team in NFL history with two 1,000-yard receivers, a 1,000-yard rusher and a quarterback with a 100 passer rating and all four are 25 or younger. A.J. Brown and Miles Sanders are 25, and Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith are 24.
4. In three playoff games under head coach Buddy Ryan, the Eagles had 44 offensive possessions and scored one touchdown. Their 43 other possessions: 20 punts, six field goals, two missed field goals, five interceptions, four fumbles, three failed fourth downs, one end of half, two end of games.
5. The Eagles allowed a 50-yard run to DeAndre Swift on the first running play they faced this year in Detroit. Literally 33 seconds into the season. Running backs have 372 carries against the Eagles since that play without a run longer than 28 yards.
6. You may have noticed Andre Dillard taking over at left guard when Landon Dickerson has missed a few snaps and even at right guard late in some blowouts in place of Isaac Seumalo. Dillard said Wednesday he never took any guard reps before this year but has really enjoyed learning a new position and gaining some versatility.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I take more reps at guard now than I take at tackle, because I have a lot more to learn at guard. I still like to take a few tackle reps to stay sharp, but I’ve been playing tackle all my life. Guard is still new to me.”
Dillard has only played four snaps at left tackle this year, but he’s played 40 at left guard and 14 at right guard. Pro Football Focus gives Dillard a whopping 84.7 pass blocking grade at guard – that’s actually 3rd-highest among all guards who played at least 50 snaps. Dillard, the Eagles’ 1st-round pick in 2019, is a free agent after this season, and this new-found versatility will only increase his value on the open market.
7. Caught up with Greg Lewis Wednesday morning during Chiefs media availability and asked how he ended up coaching Chiefs running backs when he was a wide receiver during his eight NFL seasons, the first six with the Eagles. He said after the 2020 season he asked Andy Reid if he could switch over just to gain a broader perspective on the offense, get a better understanding of blitz protections and hopefully increase his value as a potential offensive coordinator one day. Kind of like John Harbaugh did when he moved from special teams coach to secondary after the 2006 season under Reid with the Eagles. After one year in his new position, he was hired by the Ravens as head coach.
“In any line of work, you want to move up, you want to do more, you want to grow in the job, and when our running backs coach (Deland McCullough) left, I asked Andy about coaching running backs and he was cool with it,” he said. “The more you can do ...”
Lewis also wanted to remind Eagles fans of one thing.
“Just make sure they remember who the first wide receiver was to catch a touchdown in the Super Bowl,” he said with a laugh. “Alshon caught one, too, but I caught the first one.”
8. The Chiefs are 17-1 in their last 18 games vs. the NFC, with those 17 wins coming by an average of 10.5 points. The only loss? It was Super Bowl LV against the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium two years ago. They’ve won 10 straight since.
9. Remember how much grief Nick Sirianni took for his short training camp practices, days off during camp, lack of live periods, veteran rest days and walkthrough Wednesdays? One of the most remarkable stats of this entire Eagles season is 22 healthy Super Bowl starters, and anybody who doesn’t think there’s a direct correlation between Sirianni’s cutting-edge philosophy about reducing the amount of time players are on the practice field with this team’s health going into the Super Bowl is in full-scale denial. Not only does Sirianni’s method work, you’re going to see more and more teams adopt similar practice routines as they see the success the Eagles are having keeping guys healthy while also fielding one of the best teams in the league.
10. At the Eagles’ media availability Wednesday at the Scottsdale Hyatt Regency Resort at Gainey Beach, each player and coach was assigned a numbered table so it was easy to find whoever you were looking for. Jeff Stoutland was assigned Table No. 13 and when he got there he announced that he’s superstitious, turned the number over and said, “We’re at Table No. 31 now.”
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